Why Virus Denial Is Wrong

Does this even need saying? That I should even feel moved to write this post, in this day and age, seems extraordinary. But an increasing number of people are latching onto the hoary old idea that there is no such thing as a virus – that viroloigists have been studying an artefact all this time; a product of the organism rather than an entity hijackiing host biology in order to spread between hosts.

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Personal Gods and the Problem of Empty Toilet Paper Tubes

Another essay from my collection. Of note, this one was inspired by another poster on one of the sites I used to visit, however I don’t recall the poster’s name or what site this originally came up on. I’d like to give that poster credit for the original concept, so if the subject here rings a bell and you know who posted the idea previously, let me know. The essay is a more fleshed out and greatly elaborated take on the concept. _______________________________________________________________

I was brought up as an Episcopalian and went to church nearly every Sunday between the ages of about five through about fifteen. I recall many sermon topics and biblical teachings, but the topic that seemed to come up more frequently than others is the concept of a personal God. Certain priests and laypeople really gravitated to the idea that God was available on a personal level and claimed outright (and reiterated many times) that God wanted to have a personal relationship with everyone. This, of course, was coupled with the idea that God was also an all loving God. So, not only did this God want to hang out as buds, but in theory wanted the best for those folk it hung out with. Kind of like an invisible friend, but with the added bonus of being…well…Almighty. I confess, I really loved the idea of having God as a personal friend who was…well, in theory…really much cooler than any of my human friends. As you might imagine, I started to become a little annoyed and rather disillusioned when said supposed cool friend never actually did anything…well…cool. In fact, after a number of years it became quite clear (and rather disappointing) that this God didn’t do anything personal, at least not with me.

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I’m Special

Now that more folk seem to have come out of the woodwork, I thought I’d put this essay up.

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I used to hold the idea…the belief if you will…that I was following the “right” religion. I was Episcopalian, a devout Christian, and I believed Jesus was my savior. And of course, pretty much everyone around me at the time confirmed that yes, this was not only an accurate, acceptable way of thinking, but more importantly it was TRUE and the only CORRECT way of thinking! To contrast it, I (well…really…“we”, that is, the congregation in the church I went to) were reminded from time to time that “others” who did not accept such were not only wrong, but (and admittedly this was someone softened in many cases, which I now find rather odd) DAMNED! So, in other words, for years I bought into the idea that “I’m Special” because, of course, I was one of God’s chosen, loved, and forgiven people and…well…there were other folk who…well…weren’t.

There are a number of the things I find particularly head-slapping about this thinking when I look back on it now: the arrogance of it, for one, and the conceit, for two, but mostly the ridiculous anthropocentrism.

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Choices, choices, choices…

Another essay from my collection to chew on. Enjoy!


The Bible, the Quran, the Vedas, the Torah, and a good many other holy works all describe situations in which God/gods chooses things. When I’ve asked, most religious people have no problem with deities in general, and their specific God in particular, having choices and making decisions. In not a few cases, people have looked at me like I had lost my mind or that I was definitely impaired in some manner even asking such a ridiculous question.

To me, however, the idea that a god, particularly an omni-god, could even understand the concept of choice, let alone actually make a decision, is nonsensical. Continue reading

The Blind Watch Dropper

Here is one of the more essays I wrote based on discussions I’ve had hereon and on other sites like Pandas Thumb. I think this is one of the more appropriate essays for discussions here and it also happens to be one I feel is fully finished at this point. Well…I’m happy with it, but clearly I may edit it a bit given constructive criticism… 🙂

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I haven’t seen much press on this lately, but back in the late 1980s, Creationists – a slice of Christians who hold that the creation of the universe, Earth, and all living things on Earth were created by God exactly as described in the Christian Bible and that the Earth is roughly 10,000 years old…tops – tried an end around to the 1987 Supreme Court decision (Edwards v. Aguillard) barring the teaching of Creation Science in public schools. The attempted end-around was called Intelligent Design (ID). Continue reading

Been There, Done That; Creating the Anthropocentric Relatable God

The essay that follows is from a collection of writings I’ve been working on since the summer of 2021. The collection is entitled Schrodinger’s God and nearly all the essays deal with paradoxes, contradictions, inconsistencies, and just plain old absurdities with regard to concepts of God or gods that I have come across. Like the Schrodinger’s Cat thought experiment that was conceived to illustrate what Erwin Schrodinger felt was an untenable implication of the superposition principle, Schrodinger’s God is my attempt to illustrate untenable implications of certain claims, beliefs, tenets, and principles concerning god concepts, particularly omni-god concepts.

There is a scene in the 2015 movie Avengers: Age of Ultron in which Tony Stark in his Iron Man armor is chasing after Ultron after the fight on the ship that Ulysses Klaue was using to store his weapons and vibranium stock. Finally cornering Ultron against one of the ships, Ultron says, “Ah, the vibranium is getting away.” Stark responds, “And you’re not going anywhere!” To which Ultron quips, “Of course not. I’m already there. You’ll catch on.” Continue reading

Vision and the Eye

Darwin said, “the eye to this day gives me a cold shudder”. If that was true back then, if he had today’s knowledge of the eye he would be shaken down to his genes. A cursory glance at the scientific findings or our visual system reveals an organized complexity at all levels of resolution from millimeter to nanometer.

Take a close look at an eye. Between the object that I fix my gaze on and its sharp image cast onto one of my retinas there stands the cornea, aqueous humour, the iris and pupil, the lens, the vitreous humour

Precorneal tear film provides nutrients, lubrication for the cornea. It is antibacterial and removes debris while allowing light to pass through, refracted but virtually unrestricted. It isn’t a homologous film but consists of three layers, an outer lipid layer, an aqueous layer which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the cornea, and an inner layer of mucus.
Passing through this it then encounters the cornea and is again refracted, and then to the iris which control amount of light, onward through the lens which is adjusted by the ciliary muscles to focus the image at the retina.

From first entering the eye the light passes thorough a series of remarkable structures.

Corneal structure and transparency, by Keith M. Meek and Carlo Knupp, 2015:

The basic principles of corneal structure and transparency have been known for some time, but in recent years X-ray scattering and other methods have revealed that the details of this structure are far more complex than previously thought and that the intricacy of the arrangement of the collagenous lamellae provides the shape and the mechanical properties of the tissue.

If the remarkable structure of the cornea isn’t awe inspiring enough, then surely a glance at the retina will fill anyone with eye-popping astonishment. Not forgetting that retinas are living entities with life cycles that allow the whole to function as the parts are constantly being renewed.

I was inspired by comments in my previous thread to take a closer look at the visual system we share. Just a short time searching for info on this system has provided me with so much detail to add to my basic knowledge of the mechanisms involved. I think we could discuss this in more depth, share knowledge, and have an argument or two along the way. Sounds like fun to me and I’m sure I’ll learn a thing or two.

 

 

The Rediscovery of Meaning

The Rediscovery of Meaning is a volume of a collection of essays by Owen Barfield listed here.

Here is a video on Owen Barfield and the meaning crisis. It includes many video clips discussing the history of knowledge from our modern Western perspective. Barfield notes the feeling of meaninglessness that was coming to prominence in the twentieth century and continues on. He asks:

How is it that the more man becomes able to manipulate the world to his advantage the less he can perceive any meaning in it?

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The Effectiveness of Ineffective Vaccines

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UPDATED: American Heretics on YouTube

ADDED link to alternative YouTube posting without regional restrictions.

The 2019 documentary American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel focuses on unorthodox Christians in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where TSZ contributor Jonathan Bartlett lives, and in Oklahoma City, where I live. The most prominent of the subjects are two ministers of the United Church of Christ, Robin Meyers (author of Why the Christian Right Is Wrong and Saving Jesus from the Church), and Carlton Pearson (a black protege of Oral Roberts who went on to great success as a televangelist). They both accepted, earlier in life, the orthodox doctrine that the unsaved will suffer eternal damnation, but ultimately repudiated it.

The documentary has gotten favorable reviews in major newspapers, including The New York Times, but I have to say that it is somewhat slow and diffuse. The filmmakers clearly did not capture as much good footage as they needed for a feature-length release. However, the good footage is quite good, and many of you will be interested in what it reveals of religion and politics in the U.S. today. Note that YouTube provides options for increased playback speed and for captioning.

ETA: Thanks to Dazz for locating the YouTube posting above. Note that the documentary is followed by discussion that I have not reviewed. (The posting I originally linked to is not accessible from all regions of the world.)

Has UD Reached its Best Before Date?

Uncommon Descent still has some interesting topics, but the authors of the OPs simply do not tolerate any comments that do not validate their opinions.

Worse than this, they label any commenter who disagrees with any of their opinions as a Darwinist/atheist/subjectivist/materialist/communist/progressive. The two most flagrant abusers are Barry Arrington, the moderator, and Gordon Mullings, who posts as KairosFocus.

Kairosfocus’ most recent rants have been about objective moral truths and his charity of the day, self-evident first duties. It has been pointed out to him on numerous occasions that his objective moral truths are nothing more than human behaviours that most people have subjectively determined to be in their best interest if they want to continue to thrive in a social setting.

Rather than address the arguments raised against his views, he repeatedly erects strawman versions of his opponents’ views, and then argues from consequence.

The issue worth discussing here, is whether KF has a valid point.

Psi

Parapsychology, psi, ESP, auras, NDEs, anomalous cognition, psychic research. A load of woo! Nothing to see here!

Can we ignore the testimonies of those who claim to have had a near death experience, people who demonstrate blindfolded vision or who seem to have other psychic abilities?

Here and here, are videos about the work of Nicola Farmer, a woman who works with children and seemingly teaches them to see while blindfolded.

She’s either a heartless con merchant who uses children to fool the public or someone who sincerely believes she is enhancing their lives and what you see is genuine. What are your thoughts on this.

Other Ways of Knowing

Humans know about what surrounds them by virtue of their sensory perception. It is impossible otherwise to know about the world outside our head. It is necessary but is it sufficient? No. To develop our full intellect we need to develop our cognitive skills and, crucially, learn a language. Luckily, humans are a social species and language together with the physical adaptations necessary to speak, hear and understand develops in childhood seemingly without much effort, just by being immersed in the family group.

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The Skeptics Wink and Nod.

Here is an informative little video by a guy named Steve Mould who does a lot of “science” videos on youtube.  Its all (ostensibly) about how simple little processes can make “meaningful” structures from stochastic processes-and he uses magnetic shaped little parts to show this.  Its a popular channeled followed by millions, and is often referenced by other famous people in the science community-and his fans love it.

And hey, it does show how meaningful structures CAN form from random processes.  Right?  So you can learn from this.  Wink, wink.  Nod, nod. And all the skeptics will know exactly what he is really saying.  Cause we are all part of the clique that knows this language-the language of the skeptic propagandist.  I mean, he almost hides it, the real message, it is just under the surface, and the less skeptically aware, the casualist, might even miss it.  The casualist might not learn as much about Steve Mould and what he is trying to say here-but the skeptic knows.  “See, atheism is true! Spread the word!” Steve has given the wink. The same wink used by DeGrasse Tyson, and Sean Carroll, Lawrence Krauss, Brian Greene, and on and on.  You know the one.

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